Here we are at the start of February and we have now managed 5 days out for our #80dayschallenge. This is our challenge to have at least 80 days out in one year. We are on course for now but I don’t think we will manage a day out this coming weekend. It’s a good job we have February half-term coming up soon as we have four days planned out already. The little fella wasn’t especially well this weekend as he had a cold that well put him on a bit of a downer. He was OK though and I had a feeling that a day out would help him. It did! After about 20 minutes of complaining in the car he soon forgot and was singing songs and he was as happy as Larry again. He coped really well visiting the National Railway Museum in York and it was a great choice on a very cold day. Mostly because it was heated inside and that always helps.
We have been to the National Railway Museum in York before a couple of years ago and I did write about it over here. National railway museum York – a great free family day out. I have promised a vlog and a review post of everywhere we go on our #80dayschallenge and well a promise is a promise. So I will cover the museum in a different way to my last post. Today I am going to outline everything that you can see and do there that would interest families.
Please watch our video from our day out
About the National Railway Museum York
The National Railway Museum in York is located just a short walk away from the ‘fully working’ train station. It is located a few minutes walk away from the main shops and sights of York. The museum is part of the British Science Museum Group of National Museums and it tells the story of rail transport in Britain and its impact on society.
The National Railway Museum York is free to visit. They do ask for suggested donations of £5 but a donation is not compulsory. Because I didn’t want to walk any distance in the cold with a poorly boy I parked at their all-day museum car park which is an expensive £10. This money goes towards the upkeep of the museum but it is a lot of money for what is a free museum.
Is there anywhere to eat at the National Railway Museum?
The main thing to know about visiting is that you can take a picnic. They have indoor picnic tables in the station hall and I saw people eating their picnics in both cafe areas. There are no signs up to stop you. They also have a few tables outdoors by the Countess of York tea room.
The Countess of York tea room is a restored railway carriage where you can go for afternoon tea. It looks lovely and my son couldn’t understand why we couldn’t eat there. It didn’t seem to be open when we visited. You can reserve a table and if you do eat there you ask for your £10 parking fee back which is worth knowing.
There is a cafe in the great hall which is a lovely place to sit and have a snack and a drink. We stopped there for cake and a drink each which wasn’t cheap at around £10 for the two of us. It was, however, a nice place to sit and look at the trains. It does get very busy though, especially at lunchtime. They have sandwiches available for lunch and a limited hot food selection such as sausage rolls and soup.
We ate in the station hall restaurant. It wasn’t as busy as the great hall cafe and we easily found a table. The food is self-service but they have a bigger choice of hot food. I opted for a kids sausage and Yorkshire pudding with cauliflower cheese and my son had a lunch box. Both meals included a fruit juice and I had a diet coke, this all came to £13.25.
Our top things to see as a family – Free
During the day they have a demonstration as to how the trains are turned on their turntable. This attracts a lot of attention so get there a few minutes beforehand so that your kids can see.
The ‘circle of trains’
Positioned around the turntable you will find a great number of trains. Here you can see all sorts of different types and sizes. You will feel incredibly small next to them. Just look how small my son looks in the photo below and that was only a small part of that train.
They have steps set up at a few of the trains so that you can walk up to have a peer in at them. Don’t miss the walkway that goes underneath one of the trains.
One of the many trains in the ‘circle of trains’
Sit in the bullet train
The bullet train is from Japan and it is the fastest train in the world. They have an example in the great hall and my son asked to go back again as he loved it so much in there. They have videos playing and kids will love playing amongst the seats.
Have a peek inside the Mallard
From the fastest train in the world to the fastest steam engine in the world. You can go inside the main ‘cab’ of the Mallard. It’s a truly magnificent beast of a train.
Find the ambulance train
Trains have been used for so many purposes and the ambulance train has been set up really well. They have sounds to match the displays in the carriages.
Under 5’s Play Area
There is a small play area in the under 5’s with a few soft blocks to play on, a house and a train track plus a few other toys.
The north shed is located off the main hall. It is worth a wander in but kids may prefer a quick jaunt through this area.
You can walk above the workshop where they work on various train parts. My son found this relatively interesting but loved pressing the buttons to create various sound effects relevant to the workshop even more.
Go outside and spot a train going by
Just off the viewing gallery, there is a door going outside where you may or may not see a train going by. We were very lucky as one went by within seconds of us walking outside.
Collections store and Flying Scotsman story
Honestly, this section might be a little boring for kids. My son was mildly interested in the aisles of artefacts and not at all bothered by the Flying Scotsman story.
The station hall is exactly that, a station hall. It is set up exactly as you expect a station to be. There are about 4 platforms and they all have trains that you can peek in including a few you can walk into or even sit in such as a train from the ’70s, a royal mail carriage and a ‘cab’ you can step into. Plus a posh coach from days gone by.
Peek in Queen Victoria’s carriage
There are some pretty spectacular carriages in the station hall. Some of them have beds, lounge areas, old radios etc. The most spectacular of all of them is Queen Victoria’s carriage. It’s lovely peeking inside. They were clearly very special when in use.
Have a rest in the Class 87
The class 87 just felt like stepping onto a train on the midlands mainline. It is from the ’70s and train carriages haven’t changed much since. It was a good place for a much-needed rest and we watched the projected video on the train window for a while.
There wasn’t must to interest us in their current exhibition ‘testing’. This is there until the 28th April 2019. We did, however, enjoy taking photos and pretending we were waiting on the underground.
Our top things to see as a family – At a cost
Mallard Experience – Main Hall
“Take a thrilling ride on the world’s fastest steam locomotive in our exciting simulator ride. Age and height restrictions apply.” The simulator ride lasts for 5 minutes and costs £3 per person. There are a few restrictions in place for this experience including a height limit. Children must be 1.07 metres or taller, which is 42 inches.
Miniature Railway – Railway Yard
This was running even when there was some snow on the ground. It’s expensive at £3 per person. I’d like to say it was worth £6 for the two of us but honestly, it wasn’t. My son, however, loved it and sometimes it’s worth it for that. Under 12’s must be accompanied by an adult. Under 2’s are free.
Steam Train Rides – Railway yard
You can take a 10 minute steam train ride at selected weekends and during school holidays at the museum. It costs £4 per person and children under 2 are free. There were no steam train rides on when we visited.
Road train to York Minster
There is a road train which runs between York Minster and the museum. It operates daily and children are £2 each way and adults £3 each way.
Overall it was a perfect day out for us on such a cold day. We were kept lovely and warm and it wasn’t too taxing for our full of cold son. We did still walk a lot so we managed some exercise. I like trains so I didn’t find it boring but I know that trains aren’t to everyone’s taste. That saying I think even a non-train enthusiast would enjoy a visit to the National Railway Museum in York.
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